WARNING: This article contains graphic content that may be inappropriate for certain readers.
A Covid-19 school support staffer, Noloyiso Gengqa, was shot dead on the grounds of a Mthatha school on Monday, allegedly by an ex-boyfriend resisting a break-up.
The horrifying incident took place at Mandleni Junior Secondary School at Xunu Village, outside Mthatha.
School principal Nomvuzo Mvange-Tanga said the incident happened at around 07.10am in front of Gengqa’s two children, who attend the school.
The gunman, who is now in police custody, allegedly attacked Gengqa after she broke up with him.
He shot her in the head and, while she was lying on the ground, he reached down, grabbed her head and started banging it on a concrete floor, Mvange-Tanga said.
Mvange-Tanga alleged the boyfriend had been resisting a break-up and resorted to violence.
The school’s 332 children, 12 teachers and five support staff will undergo trauma counselling provided by the education department, said Mvange-Tanga.
While the bulk of the learners had not yet arrived at the school at the time of the early morning incident, Gengqa’s children, aged 13 and 10, saw the attack, said Mvange-Tanga.
“I’m told the poor children saw the incident. We have been monitoring them closely and social workers were here on the day and are monitoring their situation as well.
“Although they look like they are strong and unaffected by this, we fear that this might come back in future and hit them hard,” said Mvange-Tanga.
The children are now left in the care of their grandmother, as Gengqa was a single parent.
Mvange-Tanga said the man stormed into a classroom, where Gengqa was preparing to start her day.
A scuffle ensued, which ended up outside the classroom.
“He apparently grabbed and they wrestled, and she managed to free herself and ran outside the classroom for help, but tripped and fell down; the suspect shot her in the back of her head,” said Mvange-Tanga.
“I was informed while I was driving to school about the incident and I was instructed to go to police station, so I turned my car to the Mthatha Central police station and opened a case and returned to the school with the police.”
“When I got to the school, I saw her body in a pool of blood lying in front of the block of the intermediate phase, which houses Grades 4 to 6,” said Mvange-Tanga.
Mvange-Tanga said this was the first time the school experienced a violent incident in its history.
“We normally battle against vandalism and break-ins, especially on school holidays. In just over the period of the lockdown, we lost our fridge, four burner gas stoves, a microwave and other valuables.”
Mvange-Tanga said, after the murder, the fleeing man allegedly fired several shots in the air before disappearing into the woods.
The 29-year-old man was arrested on the mountains of Gqogqora forest on Tuesday morning, said Eastern Cape provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana.
He said the man, who had been hiding in the mountains, had no choice but to hand himself over during a two-day police search in the forest.
Kinana said the arrest was made possible by the police’s relentless efforts to eradicate all forms of gender-based violence and femicide.
While provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga welcomed the arrest, she expressed disappointment at the escalating incidents of gender-based violence.
“Violence does not and will never solve family or relationship problems. This is the truth and the reality that our people should accept and live with,” Ntshinga said.
The man is expected to appear in Mthatha Magistrate’s Court once he is charged for murder.
He remains in police custody while the investigation continues, said Kinana.